There are not many manufacturers that allow you to configure your bicycle with the color and components of your preference. Perhaps the best known is Project One by Trek, but it only applies to its high-end models. Therefore, such a privilege can only be given by those who have a big wallet.
Giving the customer the option to configure the bicycle has its logistical challenges, since it involves storing components of different levels or having a very efficient supply system. And because all of this costs money, the most common thing is that manufacturers offer you a certain bicycle frame with component packages of different levels.
For example, Cannondale offers you the Aluminum Topstone with Claris, Tiagra, 105 and Ultegra transmission. Ribble (English brand) does the same with its carbon gravel model CGR SL (by the way, at very good prices). To each model, both brands change components with the level according to the transmission, but no more. You have to stuck with it.
Although this is a good first step in serving the customer’s taste, it is not ideal. But there is a brand (sure there is more) that is getting closer to it: Dolan, an English brand that not only sells bicycles, but also components, clothing and accessories from other brands. Something unusual since, for example, on the Specialized website you cannot buy Topeak products or Selle Italia saddles.
Build your gravel bike à la Carte
Dolan allows you to configure its GXC CARBON gravel model with the transmission and components of your choice from its website. In some components you have a large number of options to choose from, in others there is no option.
The base price of the Dolan GXC is £1,799 or US $ 2,355 or 1,988 euros (very-good price, like other brands not well know), with intermediate level components, being the groupset GRX RX600 the initial point.
The first thing that Dolan asks you is to choose the size of the frame (next image), something common with the rest of the brands. The measures it handles are 49cm, 52cm, 54cm and 56cm. Incidentally, the GXC frame bears a huge resemblance to the Vitus Substance CRS-2 and uses Toray T800 carbon. Allows you to mount 650c or 700c wheels and 50mm and 45mm tire width, respectively. Likewise, you can place racks and fenders. Therefore, it is a very versatile frame.
The next thing the website asks you to do is choose a color. The standard color is Army Green and is free. If you want black / white or other combinations (next image) then you must pay an extra £ 259.99 (all prices are in this currency).
Next, you must choose the fork (carbon) and here there are no options, as it is only a model. By the way, it does not have eyelets to place racks (what a shame). The following components to choose from and that there is no option are:
- Seat post
- Frame inserts
- Seatpost clamp
- Thru axles
- Fork expander
After this, the choice of components at their different levels occurs again, with the chainset coming first. Here you have three size options (following image): 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm with two chainrings (46 / 30t).
Next comes the cassette and here you have two options: 11 / 28t or 11 / 34t. The most common in gravel is the latter, since it gives you a greater range of pedaling on climbs.
After these two components, others follow where there is no option to choose either. They are the following, all of the Shimano brand with the exception of the chain:
- Shimano GRX RD-RX812 rear derailleur
- Shimano GRX FD-RX810F front derailleur
- Shimano GRX ST-RX600 shifters
- Shimano RT70 center-lock disc rotors
- KMC X11EL chain
- Shimano BB72 bottom bracket
The options return with the handlebar and stem where you have three options, the first is included in the cost and the other two with extra cost. On the handlebar you also have three width options: 42cm, 44cm and 46cm. The same occurs with the stem, with four options: from 7cm to 10cm.
Do you want to tape your handlebars in any particular color? You have 19 color and design options, with differentiated cost. In the seat selection you have 11 options, all from the Selle Italia brand (following image). On the pedals you have the same number of options (11); seven from the Shimano brand and four from Look… ¡you are great Dolan!
Next come the wheels with four options and all of the Mavic brand Allroad model. To choose tires you have 12 options from Mavic, Continental and Panaracer brands. Available width measurements: from 28c to 43c.
To your new GXC gravel you can add accessories such as mudguards or fenders, rack, cargo bag, inner frame bag, top tube bag and handlebar bag. All this with its respective cost.
Dolan sets the initial standard of what a gravel bike (or any kind) configuration service should be, so the customer builds it to their liking. The first message Dolan sends to his competitors is that it can be done.
But offering this service on a massive scale is not the same. Trek, Giant, and Specialized sell hundreds of thousands of gravel bikes a year, and offering the setup service requires a huge logistical and monetary effort, impacting profits. Dolan sells perhaps a few hundred or perhaps thousands of GXC bikes and can meet demand on a personalized basis. This is an advantage of being a boutique or niche brand that, by the way, not all brands in this profile offer such a wide configuration service.
As for the bicycle, GXC has a somewhat traditional but aesthetically pleasing geometry frame, grommets for three bottles, allows you to install accessories such as bags, fenders and racks and, best of all, you can assemble it to your liking (and the size of your wallet ). The initial price of the base model is also extremely attractive.
If a year ago, when I was in the process of buying my gravel, and that in the end I bought the Giant Revolt Advanced 2 (no regrets here), I would have known about the Dolan GXC and the fact that I can configure the bike to my taste, surely I would have considered it very serious way to buy it.
If you are in the process of buying a new gravel, here you have an incredibly attractive option of, not only buying it, but putting it together to your liking. Incidentally, you will save money and avoid the cumbersome process of selling components that you removed from your new bike because you made improvements.